In most expats' minds, going to court in China is a daunting prospect that costs a fortune. The actual fees, however, are far more transparent than you thought. Read on to understand how much it will exactly cost for filing a lawsuit in China.
Chinese Lawyer Fees Vs. Lawyer Fees in Europe and American
In most European and American countries, lawyer's fees are charged on an hourly basis. As a result, this type of billing can lead to a lack of clarity in the total price, as the working hours always vary based on the workload, and extra work may be required when unforeseeable circumstances arise during the litigation. Moreover, the hourly rate is so high that the final lawyer's fee will likely be higher than budgeted.
This is unlikely to happen in China where most local Chinese law firms charge fees mainly based on the claim amount rather than an hourly rate. As a matter of fact, most local governments will issue guiding prices for lawyer's fees. In the case of Shanghai, the guiding standards of lawyer's fees are as follows:
For cases involving property relations, the lawyer's fees for one instance may be charged at a cumulative rate in segments according to the claim amount:
|Claim Amount||Rates for One Instance|
|For the portion of the claim amount up to and including RMB 100,000||8% to 12% of the total claim amount, but at least 3k.|
|For the portion of the claim amount over RMB 100,000 up to and including RMB 1 million||5% to 7% of the claim amount|
|For the portion of the claim amount over CNY 1 million up to and including RMB 10 million||3% to 5% of the claim amount|
|For the portion of the claim amount over RMB 10 million up to and including RMB 100 million||1% to 3% of the claim amount|
|For the portion of the claim amount over RMB 100 million||0.5% to 1% of the claim amount|
Here's an example: Let's say your landlord didn't return your deposit on your really, really nice apartment, and the claim amount is 400,000 rmb. The lawyer's fee for one instance would be calculated like this:
The first 100.000 rmb are charged at 8%, so that's 8.000 rmb.
The next 300.000 rmb are charged at 5%, so that's 15.000 rmb
Comes to a total of 23.000 rmb
However, those fees aren't written in stone and a law firm might negotiate a different fee structure for cases with a high working load, for complex cases, or even based on the financial status of the client, the risks and liabilities that the lawyer and law firm might take, and the lawyer's social reputation and working competence.
Calculating Fees for Criminal Cases
Criminal cases usually don't have a claim amount, so the calculation works differently. It goes by stages, and it's a lot more up to the negotiation between you and the lawyer what fees you'll settle on.
|For the criminal investigation stage:||1,000-10,000 rmb for each case|
|For the prosecution stage:||2,000-10,000 rmb for each case|
|The first instance stage:||3,000-30,000 rmb for each case|
Some lawyers may also choose to charge you by time. The range is huge and you might be quoted anything between 200 rmb and 3,000 rmb per hour. Better negotiate a fixed fee for each stage.
Lawyers may also have their own rates, which may be higher or lower than the above standards. But the above standard may also be used as a reference.
How Much are Court Fees?
In the same manner that lawyer fees are subject to the guiding rates, court fees vary depending on the specific cases, the standard of court fees in China is as follows:
For the cases where the claim concerns property relations, the court fee will be charged at a cumulative rate in segments according to the claim amount as follows:
|Claim Amount||Rates for One Instance|
|Not exceeding RMB 10,000||CNY 50 for each case|
|For the portion exceeding RMB 10,000 to CNY 100,000||2.5% of the portion|
|For the portion exceeding RMB 100,000 to CNY 200,000||2% of the portion|
|For the portion exceeding RMB 200,000 to CNY 500,000||1.5% of the portion|
|For the portion exceeding RMB 500,000 to CNY 1,000,000||1% of the portion|
|For the portion exceeding RMB 1,000,000 to CNY 2,000,000||0.9% of the portion|
|For the portion exceeding RMB 2,000,000 to CNY 5,000,000||0.8% of the portion|
|For the portion exceeding RMB 5,000,000 to CNY 10,000,000||0.7% of the portion|
|For the portion exceeding RMB 10,000,000 to CNY 20,000,000||0.6% of the portion|
|For the portion exceeding RMB 20,000,000||0.5% of the portion|
There are a few exceptions, divorce cases can be slightly more expensive - in the 50-300rmb range, with a 0.5% fee of the value of assets you are fighting over that exceed 200.000rmb.
Cases related to infringement of name, portrait, reputation, honor, or any other right related to personality, the court fee will be 100-500rmb, and 0.5 %- 1% of the compensation amount.
Luckily, there's an online calculator that helps you calculate the court fees and execution fees right here.
How about Preservation Case?
Property preservation means if you sue someone, and you want to make sure that his property cannot transfer during the litigation, then you may apply for property preservation so that the judge will frozen the property. The fees herefor are in the xx to xx rmb.
Evidence preservation is that when you sue someone, and the defendant has some evidence that is important for the case, but you are afraid that he will destroy the evidence. Then you can apply for evidence preservation, so that the judge will take some measures to avoid him destroying the evidence. The fees herefor are in the .. range.
|Claim Amount||Rates for One Instance|
|Not more than RMB 1,000 or no property amount is involved||RMB 30 for each case|
|for the portion of more than RMB 1,000 but less than RMB 100,000||1% of the portion|
|for the portion of more than RMB 100,000||0.5% of the portion (however, the total preservation fee will be capped at RMB 5,000)|
Certainly, you can also use the online calculator (http://www.zjcourt.gov.cn/zjzy/web/fee) as mentioned above to calculate the preservation fee.
The Fee for a Guarantee Letter
If you are applying for property preservation, the court will require you to provide a guarantee. The guarantee can be in the form of cash equal to 30% of the value of the preserved property, other property of the same value as the preserved property, or a guarantee letter issued by an insurance company.
Generally, the fee for a guarantee letter is around 0.2% of the value of the preserved property. However, the standard of guarantee letter fees may vary for different insurance companies.
Pursuant to Chinese law, any documents created abroad need to be notarized and certified. For instance, if you engage a Chinese lawyer while you are not in China, you have to sign the power of attorney outside of China. Then this power of attorney needs to be notarized in the notary office and certificated in the Consulate of China in the country where you sign it. As another example, if you need to provide the payment voucher as evidence in the litigation which is issued by an overseas bank, you have to make the payment voucher notarized and certificated, otherwise, the court may not recognize the validity of this evidence.
In this condition, you will have to pay for notarization fee. The notarization fee will depend on the standard of the country where you notarize the documents.
When the evidence is in a foreign language, it will have to be translated when provided to the court. There are two translation agencies recognized by the Shanghai court for the translation of foreign litigation documents, namely Shanghai SISU Translation Service Co., Ltd(http://www.sisuts.com/) and Shanghai Interpreters' Association (http://www.shwsfy.com/). You may visit their official websites for more information and quotations.
Do I Need to Pay an Execution Fee When Applying for Execution?
No. You don't.
Although, if the plaintiff applies for execution after the judgment takes effect, the execution fee has to be paid to the court. However, in practice, the plaintiff does not have to pay for the execution fee in advance. The court will charge the execution fee from the executed properties of the defendant.
As a whole, it doesn't take much to engage in a lawsuit in China — or, at least, not as much as you thought. Going to court might be a good choice for you to solve disputes and receive proper recompense.
This article was produced by:
Saway Wang & Associates
Saway Wang is part of Yingke Law Firm, one of the biggest law firm in the world. Her experience includes all types of cases related to corporate law, dispute resolution, foreign direct investment, contract law, labor law, family law. Saway Wang serves as the legal counsel of many foreign and domestic enterprises, including well-known...
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